Minella Indo bids to enhance his Cheltenham Gold Cup claims in a mouthwatering renewal of the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.
Mowed down late on by Champ in an epic RSA Chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival, Henry de Bromhead’s charge has been hugely impressive in winning his two starts this term at Wexford and Navan.
The seven-year-old is second only to dual Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo in ante-post lists for the blue riband next March – and his credentials will face a thorough examination on Monday, with several multiple Grade One winners in opposition.
De Bromhead said: “It’s obviously a very good race and it will be Minella Indo’s first time really out of novice company.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how he gets on.”
The Knockeen-based trainer also runs Balko Des Flos and A Plus Tard, with the latter a fascinating contender as he tackles the three-mile distance for the first time.
De Bromhead added: “They all seem in good form. A Plus Tard is going up in trip and we’ll find out a lot about him. It’s certainly worth trying and he’s kind of limited by only going left-handed.
“It was either run over two miles or three miles and we said we’d try him over three miles and see how he fared. He seems very adaptable.”
Gordon Elliott also launches a formidable three-pronged assault, with last year’s winner Delta Work joined by esteemed stablemates Presenting Percy and Samcro.
Presenting Percy looked back to his best when landing a Listed prize at Thurles on his latest appearance, while Samcro steps up to three miles for the first time since his point-to-point days.
“Delta Work won the race last year and then won the Irish Gold Cup in February. He is a real Leopardstown specialist and I’m very pleased with how he has come forward from his first run of the season at Down Royal,” Elliott told Betfair.
“Presenting Percy was impressive at Thurles last time and looks to be back on track. I think he showed at Thurles that he could still be a Gold Cup player and he is another who has probably improved again since his last run. I’m really looking forward to running him.
“It’s going to be fascinating to see how Samcro gets on at three miles. I could see him travelling best of all on the run to two out and what happens after that is a bit of an unknown. A big run here would open up new options for him.”
Willie Mullins saddles five runners, with Allaho, Kemboy, Melon, Tornado Flyer and Easy Game all declared.
Kemboy was a runaway winner of this event two years ago before going on to win at Aintree and Punchestown in the spring, but has failed to recapture that form since, most recently chasing home Presenting Percy at Thurles.
David Mullins rides Kemboy, with stable jockey Paul Townend siding with Allaho, despite finishing a disappointing sixth on his seasonal reappearance in the John Durkan at Punchestown.
Willie Mullins said: “We didn’t see what happened to Allaho the last day, but David (Mullins) said he didn’t jump and missed two fences. He has far more potential than any of the other horses in the race and I thought Paul should ride him.
“Kemboy likes the track and has done it around here before, but the ground might be too soft.
“It’s Melon’s first time over three miles and he has every chance.
“We have five runners, but they could all run well and not finish in the first three.
“It’s a top class-race and probably going to be better than a Gold Cup in Cheltenham.”
Fakir D’oudairies (Joseph O’Brien), Tout Est Permis (Noel Meade) and Jett (Jessica Harrington) complete the stellar field.